Side view of entrance to main Chaitya Hall, Karli
Photographer: Sykes and Dwyer
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the entrance to the great Chaitya cave at Karli, from right, taken by Sykes and Dwyer around 1869. Situated in western Maharashtra, the Great Chaitya or prayer hall at Karli was excavated during the phase of early rock-cut architectural activity in India. The Chaitya would have served as a centre of religious practice for the monks who lived in the adjacent rock-cut monastery or vihara. Monks were not allowed to possess material wealth, and inscriptions at this temple, and others, indicate that the construction of Chaityas was funded through donations from merchants and landowners. A courtyard precedes the cave, with a huge 'simhastambha', a free-standing pillar with a bell shaped capital topped by four lions. The facade of the cave has a wide horseshoe-shaped window. The porch cave is adorned with very fine carvings depicting mithunas or amorous couples positioned between the three arched doorways. These sculptures date from 1st century BC to 1st century AD.